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Box office hits and misses: Zootopia three-peats while Divergent disappoints

weekend box office zootopia divergent star wars fox
This was a particularly big week for hits and misses at the box office, with Disney’s animated feature Zootopia continuing to earn its blockbuster label, the penultimate installment of the Divergent franchise falling short of expectations, and the mega-hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens beginning to lose momentum in its record-breaking run.

For the third week in a row, Zootopia reigned supreme at the box office, and the Walt Disney Animation Studios feature is now closing in on 2014’s Big Hero 6 as it vies to become the most successful film produced by the studio. Its $201.8 million is about $21 million shy of current second-place feature Big Hero 6, and just under $200 million shy of overtaking the studio’s highest-grossing film of all time, 2013’s Frozen. Both of the films ahead of Zootopia in the studio’s record books won their respective years’ Academy Award for best animated feature, so the bar is set pretty high — but seems quite achievable at this point — for the new film.

On the other side of the box-office achievement spectrum, The Divergent Series: Allegiant debuted with the lowest opening weekend of the series so far. The second-to-last chapter of the movie franchise adapted from Veronica Roth’s young-adult novels generated just $29 million in its first weekend in theaters, well below the $52 million and $54 million premieres for its predecessors. The film’s generally negative reviews probably aren’t going to help it make up the difference there, and certainly don’t bode well for the final film in the franchise, which hits theaters next year.

The only other new movie to break into the top ten for the weekend was the faith-based film Miracles From Heaven, which continued to prove that religious movies are becoming a critic-proof force to be reckoned with at the box office.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Zootopia $38M $201.8M $591.7M
2. The Divergent Series: Allegiant  $29M $29M $82.4M
3. Miracles From Heaven  $15M $18.5M $18.5M
4. 10 Cloverfield Lane  $12.5M $45.2M $52.4M
5. Deadpool  $8M $340.9M $730.6M
6. London Has Fallen  $6.9M $50.1M $50.1M
7. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  $2.8M $19.3M $19.3M
8. The Perfect Match  $1.9M $7.3M $7.3M
9. The Brothers Grimsby  $1.4M $5.9M  $22.6M
10. The Revenant  $1.2M $181.1M $483.2M

As for the rest of the week’s noteworthy box-office news, 10 Cloverfield Lane and Deadpool continued to do well in theaters, with both films exceeding predictions and riding a wave of positive buzz to continued success.

This weekend also marked the first week since Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived in theaters that the sci-fi sequel failed to earn more than $1 million domestically. J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster is still being screened in 568 theaters nationwide, and earned $960,000 for the weekend (for an average of around $1,690 per theater), but the film’s loss of momentum could signal the end of its record-setting run.

At this point, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that The Force Awakens will pass Titanic on the all-time worldwide box-office rankings to become the second-highest grossing movie of all time, as Abrams’ film is still $128 million short of eclipsing the mark set by James Cameron’s 1997 record-holding drama. It’s even less likely that The Force Awakens will be able to stick around in theaters long enough to pass the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar, which raked in more than $2.78 billion over the course of its 34-week run in theaters. (The Force Awakens has earned $2.06 billion after 13 weeks, but is showing signs of slowing down.)

Next week is expected to be a big one for movies, with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice expected to crush the competition — but not without some uncertainty regarding the polarizing film’s long-term outlook. Its predecessor, Man of Steel, had a somewhat slow start at the box office and took a while to earn the sort of sales that make a sequel certain, mostly due to mixed reviews and its dark, less kid-friendly tone. Both elements seem at play once again in Dawn of Justice, so it will be interesting to see how the film is received.

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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